This weekend I had the privilege of speaking with my good friend Tara Teng at a Meeting House small group in Oakville. After screening our documentary about sex trafficking in Canada, we had an amazing time of discussion with the group. Three things stood out to me during out time together: First, the conversation was full of action-based solutions. Second, the men in the group really emphasized the responsibility they had as men to end demand. Finally, some placed importance on grassroots approaches, and others sought government and leadership initiatives.
A multi-faceted approach is definitely necessary, giving each person a unique role to play in the fight against human trafficking. At the end of the night, we set out three petitions for the group to sign. If we want the government to take action on this issue, we must empower them to do so. This is the type of thing where grassroots – the voice of the people – inspires action from the “top.”
If you want to make your voice heard, here are instructions in 3 steps on how you can sign and send in petitions:
Petition # 1: National Plan to Combat Human Trafficking
Currently Canada does not have an action plan to fight trafficking. Because human trafficking is run by organized crime, it is absolutely crucial that countries get organized and develop action plans if they are to have an impact. MP Joy Smith has put together an anti-trafficking plan called Connecting the Dots: A Proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, and signing this petition will help push that forward. Download the petition here.
Petition # 2: Prostitution and Sex Trafficking
In Canada right now, there is a push to have prostitution completely decriminalized. This would make buying sex totally legal – which increases demand and provides traffickers with a risk-free opportunity to provide supply. This petition seeks to decriminalize the women and offer exit programs for the ones who want to leave the trade, but criminalize the men who pay for sex. This approach has worked in Sweden to reduce trafficking. You can read more about this issue here and download the petition here. You can also support our next documentary, which focuses on this debate.
This petition seeks to amend the Criminal Code so that Canadian citizens or permanent residents who are involved in human trafficking outside of Canada’s borders can be prosecuted for their crimes. This petition also seeks to amend the Code to ensure that the definition of exploitation in Court will be enhanced to include clear examples such as the use of threats, violence, coercion, and fraudulent means. Law enforcement, lawyers, and prosecutors have faced challenges demonstrating exploitation in trafficking in persons cases under the current definition. Read more about this petition here and download it here.
Once you have downloaded the petitions, print them & get them filled with names and signatures of friends, family, and others in your community. Each sheet has room for 25 names.
Though you can send the petitions to MP Joy Smith’s office, I would recommend sending them to your local Member of Parliament with a note requesting that they present the petitions in the House. This way, MP Smith will not be the only one presenting the petitions, but there will be a wide representation from other MPs as well, demonstrating that Canadians all across the country see this as a priority.
Let’s show our government that we are serious about bringing exploitation to and end!
***You can keep sending these in until the bills pass and become law. I will update this message when that has happened.
***Update: Bill C-310 will be debated at Third Reading on April 27, 2012 at 1:30pm. After the hour of debate, Bill C-310 will be adopted if it has unanimous consent. If it does not have unanimous consent at the end of the hour of debate, a recorded vote will be held on May 2, 2012. Instead of sending petitions for Bill C-310, you can now contact your MP and ask them to vote in favour!